Memento Mori

One thing I've always thought with regard to industrial 'wastelands' is that people imagine the environmental damage to be worse than it actually is, because as humans we find it hard to measure our own tiny lifespans against that of this near-perpetual planet. The earth is enormously resiliant and will always revert back to something resembling its natural state, if given 50 or more years or so.

Close by my house in Cornwall is a vast and lushly wooded valley that seems so wonderfully primeval and pristine, yet if one looks amongst the tangled roots you can see that the entire valley was an enormous slate and tin workings, and that only 200 years ago it would have been a huge rubble strewn wasteland, a ragged brown scar torn through the landscape, poisoned with stagnant pools of arsenic and cadmium from the tin waste.

Yet in a fraction of a blink of an eye in global terms it is back to a revised (rebooted?) version of its original incarnation. Yes, purists will argue that the sequel is never as good as the original. But the fact remains that the cliche is true - even vast manmade upheavals can and will be ground to dust in the endless cycle of ecological transublimation.

The photo above is of a theme park in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which after only a little more than 20 years is rapidly on it's way to becoming an untouched wildlife haven and wilderness.

So perhaps (and I understand that most would not agree with me) humility lies with realising that we are transitory and ephemeral, and ultimately of little consequence to the limitless power of nature and inexorable march of time


Gaw said...

Wonderful observation and strangely comforting. I remember John Gray having a lot to say about the vanity of the environmentalists: we could hardly destroy life even if all the doom-mongers are right!